The Secret History of Women in Coding

Mary Allen Wilkes with a LINC at M.I.T., where she was a programmer.CreditCreditJoseph C. Towler, Jr. As a teenager in Maryland in the 1950s, Mary Allen Wilkes had no plans to become a software pioneer — she dreamed of being a litigator. One day in junior high in 1950, though, her geography teacher surprised her with a comment: “Mary Allen, when you grow up, you should be a computer programmer!” Wilkes had no idea what a programmer was; she wasn’t even sure what a computer was. Relatively few Americans were. The first digital computers had been built barely a decade earlier at universities and in government labs. By the time she was graduating from Wellesley College in 1959, she knew her legal ambitions were out of reach. Her mentors all told her the same thing: Don’t even bother applying to law school. Read more here >>>

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